A Message From the President: January 2020
Remember the days when you only got 4-5 channels on your TV? No cable… no Dish/Direct… no streaming… just a good ol’ antenna on top of your house, or in some cases a pair of “rabbit ears” with tinfoil wrapped around them on top of your television. As a kid magician, some of the best days of the year happened when the TV Guide (remember that magazine?) indicated there was going to be some “magic TV special” airing on a Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind, in these “olden days”, we didn’t get to see magic or magicians very often. During my youth, it was either a RARE television show, a magician at our school presenting a school assembly, or maybe a magic act at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
Boy, things have certainly changed! An unlimited supply of magic videos and specials are at our fingertips via our phones and computers. With a few simple keystrokes you can enjoy the legendary performances of Cardini, Houdini, Shimada, Marvyn & Carol Roy, Blackstone… the list goes on and on. Those who are just starting out in magic have no idea how lucky they are to have these resources so readily accessible. But… are they really that lucky?
One of the biggest problems that occurs when watching or learning magic from video is the temptation to emulate or copy the other magician’s performance. When I was a teenager and learning magic from my mentor Faucett Ross… oftentimes he’d loan me a book from his library and tell me to read such and such trick or tricks. He told me to read the description of the effect and the explanation BEFORE he would show me the trick. I’m sure the reason he adopted this teaching practice was because he didn’t want me to just “copy” what I had seen him do. He wanted to spark my own creativity and presentational ideas before I saw someone else perform the trick. Now that I look back at this… it makes so much sense.
Today, beginning magicians are bombarded with videos of performances… and that can make it very difficult for them to “throw out” what they’ve just seen and come up with their own way to present the trick or effect.
I always find myself admiring professional magicians who can take a “standard trick” and make it uniquely their own. Eric Buss is great at doing this… so is Ed Alonzo, Tim Hannig, Chipper Lowell, Jeff Hobson and Derek Hughes.
The next time you’re working a new routine, try to think of creative ways you can “make it your own.” It could be the patter, the theme, the music, etc. Do something that puts a little piece of “you” in the presentation. At our next Ring meeting (March 5), we’re going to try a little experiment in creativity. It’ll be fun… and I’m sure you’ll find a genesis of new ideas or maybe a new approach to your magic.
See you at the March meeting!
Ring 129 President
Sorcerer’s Circle Corner by Lance Rich
I’ve had a number of really nice conversations with several members following the Annual Stage Contest. These chats have been so positive about the new application process. People seemed to find it easier and user friendly. As I mentioned at the meeting, a few people were fairly close to becoming new members, and I think several members are excited about ‘joining’ the Sorcerers Circle. Remember – all you have to do is participate in the Ring activities and functions, and you earn SC ‘points’.
Last month’s column mentioned: attendance at meetings, lectures, shows, picnics, auctions, board meetings and teaching tricks, performing, buying and selling, and helping to set up and break down equipment. But – there are other ways to enrich the club, and gain some Sorcerers Circle points.
Contributing to the newsletter is a great way to earn points. Perhaps you’d like to contribute a magic book review, a trick review, or another written piece on magic. I love the job that Steve Steiner does in assembling this newsletter every month, and I know that he enjoys having content from fellow Ring members to fill these (electronic) pages.
I always especially enjoy reading the articles by or about our Ring 129 members. So, if you are so inclined, consider writing something for the newsletter and as space permits, Steve will work to include the submissions.
February 2020 Ring129 Meeting Report by Stu Lewis
Greetings from the home of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. (That’s got nothing about magic, but every fifty years or so we get to gloat).
January 26 we held our annual contest for Stage Magician of the Year, preceded by a Tex/Mex buffet, at the MTH theater. Since we are submitting a separate photospread, I’ll just describe it briefly here.
Lance Rich (with assistant Amy Nichols) took first place, followed by Korso and J. D. Roberts.
Other participants were Phil King, Stu Lewis, Roger Miller, Dennis Wilson, and Alan Goodheart. Larry Brodhall, visiting from Omaha, served as M.C., and Kirk DeWeese used his tech knowledge on sound and lights to give the show a professional look.
David Sandy presented a presidential citation to three members who had given exceptional service to the Ring: Duane and Jane Fields, and Steve Steiner.
Nine members of our Ring’s honor society—the Sorcerer’s Circle—were presented with stars for continued service to the Ring: Kirk DeWeese, Dennis Burks, Keith Leff, Steve Steiner, Lance Rich, Chuck Replogle, Phil King, Alan Goodheart, and David Sandy.
French magician David Stone gave a lecture at the U.S. Toy & Magic Shop on February 4. His principal focus was on cards, with some bottle productions tossed in along the way. He is very entertaining, but I need to add a caveat that much of his repertoire consists of routines which require use of the unique gimmicks that he markets, so they may be of limited use to some card performers.
Our February meeting consisted of virtually non-stop activity for two and a half hours (David promised we would be done by 10:00, and he succeeded with seconds to spare). Ava Anderson (age 8) led off with a sponge rabbit routine and later conducted a teach-a-trick to show how she did it.
Shaun Rivera’s teach-a-trick was the somewhat familiar routine where you create a ladder with two rubber bands and have a folded bill descend step by step.
David then introduced a game in which seven members each had a letter taped onto their backs, forming a jumble which another group of seven had to solve.
Dennis Burks reported on Ring history.
David then returned to give us tips on how to pack magic apparatus when traveling to a show.
Tom Burgoon then entertained us with some humorous incidents from his many years of professional entertaining.
David came back again to show us a collectible item he recently purchased, a Milson Worth lightbulb penetration.
There were so many tricks and performances that I can only list them here. Phil King taught a card force.
Dennis Burks changed a Rubik’s Cube into a handful of M&M candy.
John Hicks performed several card effects.
Stu Lewis honored the memory of recently deceased card man Simon Aronson by performing one of his routines.
David Heeter performed a torn-card restoration.
Jerry Jackson performed a cut-and-restored rope routine using a dagger instead of the usual scissors.
Mentalist Phil Franklin performed a design duplication.
Rob Novak, doing walk-around “because I can” (he recently had a hip replacement), vanished cards thought of by three spectators.
Phil King continued the theme of mentalism by divining the contents of a sealed envelope.
Finally, Terry Davolt told how he had recently posted an incident in which he singed his beard in a fireplace, leading Doc Blum (former Ring president who relocated to Dallas a few years ago) to send him a fire extinguisher. He also spoke of some other gags he and Doc had played on each other.
We were then out of time, and I’m out of room!
Stu Lewis can be reached at
On January 25th, Laird Wilcox, the writer of our monthly column, “The Card Corner” passed away at his home in Kansas City.
Laird was actually known by his family as Anthony or “Tony”. You see, Laird was the fourth of five “Laird” Wilcox’s!
In an interview with Laird’s father, now living in Olathe, Kansas, I was able to piece together some interesting facts about Laird. Though we mostly knew him through his involvement with the local I.B.M and S.A.M. magic clubs, Laird had several other interests and hobbies.
Laird was a trained Army Combat Medic Paratrooper. He spent two years in Germany and worked in several army hospitals during his military career. Following his term in the army, he worked as a nurse at various veteran hospitals including the VA Hospital in Kansas City.
During his life he was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish and camp. He also grew up with and loved guns and weapons and was an active member of the National Rifle Association. He was in line to be one of the official local representatives of the NRA.
Laird spent time traveling throughout Europe and became a very good amateur photographer.
Laird always liked messing around with cards. But, it was when he discovered the local magic clubs and card tricks that changed his life. Magic soon became an important part of his life. He became friends with many members of the local magic clubs and found a niche as a card guru. According to Laird’s father, “It was a natural fit.”
Laird’s death is still somewhat of a mystery. The actual cause of death is still undetermined and no death certificate has yet been issued. It is estimated that he had been dead for two days before he was found in his home in Kansas City. He had been
going through some serious physical issues which were only known to a handful of people.
Laird willed most all of his magic to fellow ring member, Shawn Rivera.
Below is a copy of an obituary which Laird’s father had prepared for the Kansas City Star:
Laird Anthony Wilcox, 55, passed away at the age of 55 on 25 January 2018 in Kansas City, MO. He leaves two sons, Laird J. Wilcox, 21, and Theodore A. Wilcox, 19, of Tulsa, OK; his father, Laird M. Wilcox of Olathe, KS; his mother, Eileen Maddocks, of Burlington, VT; two sisters, Elizabeth Carrier of Middletown, CT; Carrie Wilcox of Dry Ridge, KY; a niece, Christine Franklin of East Hartford, CT, and a large extended family. He was interred at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Laird “Tony” Wilcox was born in Topeka, KS on 18 November 1962. He lived with his parents in Lawrence, KS, until 1966 when he moved with his mother and sister to Clinton, IA, and then to Houston, TX in 1967. From there they moved to Middletown, CT in 1979 where he graduated from high school. While in Middletown he accompanied his mother who was a tour leader on two trips to Egypt to visit the Pyramids at Giza in 1982 and 1983.
In 1983 he joined the U.S. Army where following basic training at Ft. Hood, TX, after which he took training as a qualified combat medic paratrooper at Fort Jackson, SC, and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Fulda, Germany on the East German border. He traveled widely when on leave in Europe, spending time in Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece. He was an accomplished photographer and had photos of his travels published in a number of collections.
He returned to the United States in 1987 and was stationed at Ft. Riley, KS where he was assigned to Irwin Army Hospital, promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was subsequently assigned to the last remaining MASH unit held in reserve during Desert Storm in Iraq, ready to ship out at a moment’s notice. He left the Army after 8 years of service in 1991 and moved to Skaneatles, NY, where he went to work for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and remained for a year before transferring to the VA Hospital in Kansas City, MO in 1992.
In 1995 he married Ruth Ann Mason, daughter of Theodore and Ruth Mason of Tulsa, OK. They had two boys mentioned above. After their second son was born in 1998 Ruth Ann left for Tulsa, OK, to be near her parents and Tony moved to Olathe, KS, where he lived until he moved to Kansas City, MO in 2004. He stayed at the VA Hospital for 12 years and then moved into private nursing until he retired in 2012.
Laird Anthony Wilcox was a member of Sons of the American Revolution, a hereditary organization of descendants of Revolutionary War veterans, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, a hereditary organization of descendants of Civil War Union Army officers. He was a member of Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and an Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association.
He was an accomplished amateur magician and was active in both the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) and the Society of American Magicians (SAM). He performed for veterans at the VA Hospital and in the early 2000’s could be seen performing on the Country Club Plaza and other locations in Kansas City. He was a regular attendant at conventions of both organizations and was well-regarded in both groups and good friends with a number of performing magicians.
He will be deeply missed by his many friends and family members.